Square Dance Nebraska - Ideas


Is your halo on straight? It is important that as many of our club members as possible come to the class as "angels." What are angels? They are the wonderful people who volunteer their time to ensure that a class has the best possible learning experience.

Angles provide the new class members with their first real look at the club. How angels behave and treat the new dancers, other angels, and visitors will affect class members' decisions whether or not to join our club.

Angels are also role models. No matter what the instructor and club try to communicate to the students concerning etiquette, attitudes, or styling, class members inevitably take their cues from what they see the angels doing. So it is important that angels be extra careful to provide good role models.

Smile, be enthusiastic, and enjoy the dancing. Be friendly, courteous, and gentle. This is sometimes easier to say than to do, especially if it has been a long day. And, let's be honest, some of us have personal agendas, perhaps disagreements with club policies or less-than-cordial relations with specific club members that are out of place here and must be put aside.

Although most of us do the right things instinctively the majority of the time it can't hurt to reiterate certain points. The following advice for angels has been extracted from several sources, including articles in square dance publications and handouts prepared for other clubs.

This is perhaps the most common misconception that causes problems. The primary teaching function of an angel is to teach by example. To be in the right place at the right time. One important thing you can do is to establish handholds after every move. This not only helps the students maintain their orientation in the square, it is a very good habit to develop.

It is always tempting to explain something your square is not getting and the students will often ask you to do this -- BUT YOU MUST RESIST. It diverts the student's attention from the teacher and one of the most important things to learn in beginner class is to listen to the teacher/caller. Sometimes you can clarify a simple point for students between tips; this is fine, but not while the caller is at the microphone.

Another difficult point is just HOW MUCH HELP you should give in getting dancers into the right place. Dancers, after all, must learn to do the moves on their own. To gently guide someone through a maneuver if they have a momentary lapse of memory might be okay and sometimes one can help by indicating nonverbally where a person should go. But we accomplish little by pushing or pulling a dancer through an action when he or she doesn't know what was supposed to have been done.

It is better to let a square break down rather than to use too much force getting people into the right place. Broken down squares are an indication to the instructor that the dancers are having problems. Do be sure the teaacher is aware of problems, raise your hand if necessary and ask the teacher to explain something if your square is having trouble.

Be careful, however, not to embarrass any dancer by the way you ask for help. It is much better to say that "the square is not getting" a certain move rather than saying "Steve isn't getting" a certain move.

Do encourage students. Let them know that all new dancers make mistakes and that things get better with practice. Also, angels do make mistakes too. It is good to admit to them cheerfully as it makes the students less tense about their own mistakes.

Club styling is always a third major source of contention. It is important the new dancers learn the calls with standard Callerlab styling, that is, without the flourishes we like so much. The teacher will introduce our club styling at appropriate times after the calls are mastered. Angels must use only the styling which has been taught to the class.

This is not always easy. How many of us even remember how to do a DoSaDo without a Highland Fling? But it really is very important. Students are going to want you to teach them "how it's done" before they have mastered the call but you should resist the temptation.


Square Up With Everyone -- not just a few friends. Seek out the weaker students and ask them to dance with you. Make sure that students are not sitting out because angels are dancing.

End Conversations Promptly -- when the teacher begins a tip. If you are not dancing, keep your conversations far away from the dance area.

Lend A Hand -- cheerfully if you are asked to help set up or clean up, help with refreshments or take attendance.

Keep An Eye Out -- for security problems, accidents, and dangerous situations like spills or debris on the floor.

Let The Instructor -- know if there are problems with the sound.

Don't Complain -- about the hall, the floor, the caller or anyone attending the class.

Don't Criticize -- students or other angels.

Remember -- your name badge.